To defend your PC against unwanted pop-ups and other security threats
that propagate on the Internet, your best bet is to install a
Web browser other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE). Brian and I
recommend the excellent Mozilla Firefox, which has been the subject of previous
columns by both myself and
Brian. We’ll have a complete review of Firefox in the
Windows Secrets Newsletter after the 1.0 Gold version of the new browser is
released, which is expected on Nov. 9.
We’re well known for advocating the installation of Service Pack 2
(SP2) for Windows XP because of the upgrade’s many security-related
enhancements. (Our most recent articles on installing SP2, including coverage
of some glitches that you might encounter, were in the
and Sept. 9
issues of the Windows Secrets Newsletter.)
For the past year and more, Microsoft’s coders worked to develop
Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). This long, drawn-out effort turned
what was previously a minor collection of bug fixes and security
updates into a major Windows upgrade.
I like to think back on the good old days, when the worst thing Windows might
do to us was crash.
Now we have to defend ourselves against invisible programs that silently take
over our PCs, record our keystrokes to capture our banking passwords,
use our bandwidth to send out junk e-mails that can’t be traced back
to the senders, and then bury us in the spam we receive in turn from all
the other PC users whose machines have been similarly hacked.
Since first alerting you to the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2
(SP2) in the
Aug. 19 issue of the Windows Secrets Newsletter, a number of glitches with
the upgrade have surfaced. This isn’t surprising. As we’ve noted repeatedly,
people are going to have some problems with SP2, one of Microsoft’s most
intrusive and potentially disruptive updates ever. In today’s issue, we’ll
examine some of these concerns.
Microsoft finally released the long-awaited Windows XP Service Pack 2
(SP2) to manufacturing, initiating a set of release-related
activities that will likely continue well into October. SP 2 beta
testers and MSDN Universal and Professional subscribers were the first
to get access to the download on Aug. 6. Since that date, Microsoft has
been staging the release of SP2 to the rest of the world.
Last year, Microsoft released an Office family product called
OneNote. You may not have heard of OneNote, because Microsoft
curiously chose not to include it with any of its Office 2003
product bundles (Standard, Professional, and so on). Or you may have
dismissed this application as one you can do without.
Sometimes, Microsoft's patches really turn my stomach.
This week? It’s the “Windows Task Scheduler” security patch that’s identified as
If you slog through Microsoft's miles and miles of technical discussion, you
might come to the conclusion that poor ol’ Microsoft had fallen victim to yet
another bunch of wily black-hat virus writers. These miscreants do their worst
to lure you to their wicked Web sites in order to infect your poor, unsuspecting
PC with a bogus Windows Task Scheduler job. (The problem afflicts Windows XP,
Windows 2000, and Windows NT 4 if Internet Explorer 6 is installed.)
In the June 17
issue of Brian’s Buzz on Windows, we discussed the promise of Windows XP
Service Pack 2 (SP2) and why you need to evaluate this release before
Microsoft finalizes the product sometime later this summer.
After many agonizing months of development, Microsoft issued on
June 14 its Release Candidate 2 of the major new upgrade, Service Pack 2 (SP2)
for Windows XP. As a “release candidate,” the update is not yet a
supported package that can be installed en masse by Windows users.
(For one thing, it’s never recommended that you install the final software
over a release candidate, even if there’s an uninstall feature for the
beta version.) But it’s getting very close to the “gold” version of the
software that Microsoft will soon be urging all XP users to install.